Applying proven SEO tactics for B2B elevates your online visibility throughout the buying cycle and helps you close more sales.
Some marketers assume that SEO is relevant only to business-to-consumer (B2C) companies, but that’s not the case.
The truth is B2C and business-to-business (B2B) SEO have different aims. B2C SEO is focused on bringing in high volumes of leads to drive immediate transactions. In B2B, the objective is attracting quality leads and nurturing them through the sales funnel.
Many B2B enterprises have taken the important first step of adding some targeted keywords to their websites—and that’s good news. To get ahead in B2B SEO, apply these five proven tactics to build an engaged online audience.
#1 Define keywords for each step of the buyer’s journey
SEO is traditionally thought of as a top-of-the-funnel digital marketing activity, focused on drawing first-time visitors to a site. That’s true—but there’s more you can do to keep prospects coming back during the entire B2B sales cycle.
In fact, using SEO to keep people engaged throughout the buying process is more important than ever.
Why? Today’s B2B buying journey is no longer linear, as research and consulting firm Gartner explains:
B2B buying doesn’t play out in any kind of predictable, linear order. Instead, customers engage in what one might call ‘looping’ across a typical B2B purchase…
That means you can’t assume you have captured a prospect’s attention after they’ve signed on to your mailing list or requested a demo. Instead, your prospects may loop through research and consideration steps multiple times before they make a final decision.
That’s why you need to reflect on the questions people have when they’re narrowing their short list and nearing a buying decision. You can then use those questions to clarify keywords and create content, answering those questions, that align with each phase of your funnel.
#2 Go after striking-distance keyword
In SEO strategies, the goal is to appear on page one of search engine results pages (SERPs). You’ve likely heard about targeting long-tail keywords that have higher search volumes and lower competition. But there’s another term to know—striking-distance keyword.
A striking-distance keyword is one your brand already ranks for—but on page two or three of a prospective customer’s search. It’s not quite where you want to be. But with some keyword optimization and a little time, you can elevate your rank to page one.
#3 Target “people also ask” and “featured snippet” search results
The most coveted search engine position is at the top of page one—called position zero. And the most reliable way to get there is through featured snippets and “people also ask” (PAA) results.
Here’s what those two SEO terms mean:
- Featured snippets summarize answers to a search question. They come in many forms—including lists, paragraphs and videos.
- People also ask content provides additional questions related to a search query. Most PAA content includes a featured snippet.
Although these positions are quite competitive, you can angle your content to optimize for featured snippets and PAA. Start by identifying keywords for which you’d like to rank as position zero. Keep these concepts in mind when generating your keyword lists:
- Ask a question: Keywords starting with “why” or “can” are most likely to trigger a featured snippet.
- Target longer queries: In research, 55% of queries with 10 words generated a target snippet, while 17% of five-word queries triggered a snippet. Your best bet is aiming for a query length of at least five words.
Next, formulate succinct, factual answers to your queries—and include the questions and answers in your content. Aim for 50 to 60 words or 200 to 300 characters of content.
It can also be helpful to date your content since search engines are most likely to prioritize current information. If you use dates, you will need to track them so that you can refresh your content and retain your top-ranking search position.
#4 Use a “hub and spoke” content approach
All B2B marketers know that frequent blog updates are one of the best ways to keep website content fresh and attract traffic. When planning topics, identify ones you want to cover in-depth. Then, you can create one content “hub” for your central topic along with several linked blog posts or “spokes.”
Before embarking on content creation, perform keyword research. Use the higher-volume keywords in your hub post and lower volume and supporting keywords in the spokes.
With this hub and spoke content strategy, you are positioning yourself as a leader and authority on topics that are essential to your business. Additionally, you create a strong internal link structure that helps users explore your content, spend more time on your site and learn more about what you do.
#5 Optimize internal linking
Search engines, like Google, prioritize pages with more links pointing to them. That’s true whether the links are internal (from your own site) or external (from an outside domain).
Although you can’t control sites that link to your pages, you have full ownership of internal linking. As a first step, identify a few foundational pages as cornerstone content and link pages to them. You can also create a linking hierarchy to connect related pages within your site and help visitors find more content on your site that interests and informs them.
These approaches help search engines crawl your site to understand your content and deliver value to your visitors—a true win-win.
Deploy a smart B2B SEO strategy
What’s the takeaway? SEO shouldn’t be an afterthought for B2B marketers. Rather, it needs to be the foundation of your content marketing strategy. Use proven best practices to make your enterprise search strategy a success.
By emphasizing SEO, you can gain visibility, secure new leads and drive more business growth.